Arts & Crafts, Art Nouveau and Art Deco

Archibald Knox For Liberty & Co. - Model 500-36

Archibald Knox For Liberty & Co. - Model 500-36

This is another design by Archibald Knox for Liberty & Co, and quite a rare and important piece due to the impressive opal.

It is recorded as model 500/36 and also as 500/58 in the jewellery section on

At first look you're probably thinking, "this is a 'cheat', where's the pearl?"

Tear your eyes away from that opal, and look up above it, no that's not a reflection, it's a little oval cabochon of mother of pearl.


However the opal is the star. This pendant dates to around 1900-04 and at that time Lightning Ridge black opals were undiscovered.

The best opal of the day was Queensland boulder opal, and that's what Liberty & Co. have used here.

This is quite a big pendant, about 50 x 30mm including the very clever bale. The opal is about 17 x 12mm.

I'm still in awe of this piece and will let the picture tell the story, however for those who'd like to know more, here's a couple of links.

This first one is a monograph on the genius of Archibald Knox

The second is an excerpt from a book on the discovery of Queensland boulder opal, as the Aussis say, "a bloody good yarn".
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Burnard Cuzner

Burnard Cuzner

So I'm getting near the end of our 'Art' pieces that have pearls or MOP etc.

It's noticeable that our collection is largely based around British pieces, particularly those from Liberty & Co.

Simple explanation, we live in New Zealand, a former British colony, and there were a number of jewelers and agents here who stocked Liberty & Co in the late C19th/earlyC20th.

So good pieces do turn up here, the challenge is to get to them before they go into the melting pot.

Meanwhile there's little chance of finding the USA masters like Tiffany & Co., or Frank Gardner Hale, in this part of the world. Still I live in hope.

This lovely brooch is another Liberty & Co piece in 15ct gold, no marks, but distinctively by Bernard Cuzner, who designed for Liberty and Haseler circa 1900-1910.

It's another clever design, with a brooch pin on the back, and it also doubles as a lavalier/pendant by linking a chain around the top wires.

Cuzner has an interesting connection with Australia as he trained Rhoda Wager, a UK artist and jeweler who later settled in Australia, and became their preeminent Arts & Crafts jeweler.

While unmarked it is distinctively by Cuzner, due to the little "turned up" ends on the leaf/bud designs, the Cuzner example on the right from Tadema Gallery has the same "turn ups".

The smaller pic in the middle is actual size. Once again MOP or blister pearls were used to great effect with turquoise.

Again deceptively simple, but when you handle and examine it, the wire-work is gorgeously organic.

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These are beautiful! Please would you show us the backs of the pieces? Are the entwining stems, for want of a better term, separate or joined? I'm asking about the collection, not just the last 2 pieces. Please keep telling us about the art history, with the references.

What fun it is to learn from you! Thank you for brightening my day:)
I love this thread! Thank you for sharing your amazing collection :)
Hi Whicker, sure happy to show pics of the backs, will be a few days until I get to them again.

"entwining stems" is a great description, and as Dr Stephen Martin says in his monograph (link above), the "gold designs were handcrafted throughout",
so the pieces were hand fabricated and assembled, which makes them even more amazing.
Your pieces are quite breathtaking! I bet that opal is incredibly beautiful in real life!
hi Pattye, yes while he was not as well recognised as Archibald Knox, Bernard Cuzner was a master silversmith, jeweller and designer.

He was head of the department of metalwork at the Birmingham School of Art from 1910 to 1942, quite a career!
He also published a couple books reprinted many times over the years :

"A First Book of Metal-Work" and "A Silversmith's Manual"
This thread marks a new topic at It is a very exciting idea to see these finished pieces and one I hope will get a lot of examples and posts. I for one, look forward to recognizing the range of pieces in a brand like Mikimoto. I had no idea how much they did besides strands.

I give it and the OP a 5 star rating. It would be great to get more threads with examples of other major pearl designers as well.
Wow, I love this thread, so interesting to see these pieces by the designers who were at the forefront of these movements, and hear the research you have done too :) I agree with the us more!!!

I'd particularly love to see any Scottish Pearls anyone has....
I wish we had more to show, however that is about it for our "Art" pieces with pearls.

I have the feeling Liberty & Co. did use Tay River/Scottish pearls, although I've never seen it previously suggested by the experts.

The following Archibald Knox Liberty & Co. pendant is one of their absolute masterworks.
It is set with with a boulder opal, and those three pearl drops sure look like Scottish river pearls to me,
although on reflection, maybe they're more likely to be Mississippi River pearls?

(The image below is from the Archibald Knox Society website, courtesy of Tadema Gallery). Words fail ....

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Oh my! I really love the combination of clean lines with the vivid opal and pearls. Beautiful!!!
Oh my, that is exquisite! Interesting how the wire wraps are loosely done that hold on the bottom pearls. Certainly the shape of American wing pearls, perhaps Scottish pearls had that shape also. That's what I love about pearls~always something new to learn about!
Back views of the Liberty & Co pieces

Back views of the Liberty & Co pieces

So this is for whicker, who asked the to see the backs of our Liberty & Co pieces, to understand more about the construction.

Good question, and these back views show these items were individually fabricated, rather than cast from a mold.

Enjoy ...

Wow, Paul...they're beautiful pieces. Good to see the backs, it sounds silly, but it's almost the first thing I look at if I'm thinking of buying a piece. Love the way the turquoise one is linked through :)